Grab tie-up, self-order printers for #BuySingLit

A project called Sing Lit Cloud involves self-order machines (left) with printers that will dispense free bite-sized excerpts of Singapore books.
A project called Sing Lit Cloud involves self-order machines (left) with printers that will dispense free bite-sized excerpts of Singapore books.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The third edition of the #BuySingLit campaign aims to get Singaporeans to buy local literature through a tie-up with ride-hailing app Grab, as well as a book fair that centres on locally-published Malay literature.

The industry-led movement will run over two weekends this year instead of one, from March 8 to 17. It will feature more than 50 programmes islandwide.

Singapore Book Council executive director William Phuan, who is on the #BuySingLit organising committee, said at the launch event yesterday that this year's movement aims to "showcase the local literature scene in unusual ways and reach beyond our current SingLit book lovers".

These methods include Grab SingLit by online retailer and Grab Singapore, in which Grab users can redeem some 8,000 books by Singapore writers using points from GrabRewards on the app, at about 50 points a book. It runs from March 8 to 31. head of operations Callie Chong said it hopes to expose a larger audience to home-grown literature via GrabRewards' users.

Another project, called Sing Lit Cloud, organised by literary non-profit group Sing Lit Station, involves self-order machines with printers. These will be installed at Our Tampines Hub, Mapletree Business City and Library@Harbourfront.

The printers, which are inspired by a similar project by French publisher Short Edition, will dispense free bite-sized excerpts of Singapore books by authors such as Catherine Lim, Gopal Baratham and Clarissa Goenawan.

Local publisher Pustaka Islami-yah will be organising Pesta Buku Melayu, Singapore's first book carnival that focuses on local Malay literature, at Wisma Geylang Serai from March 16 to 17.

It brings together four local Malay-language publishers and will feature programmes such as a children's book-writing competition, writing workshops and a poetry slam.

Pustaka Islamiyah director Syed Ali Semaitexpects the fair to draw about 5,000 people.

He said: "It's important for all the publishers to come together and create a hub to build up the reading habits of the Malay community."

Other activities include an escape-room game at bookshop City Book Room, in which groups of participants have an hour to find clues based on a Chinese-language children's book hidden around the bookshop and escape. Bookstore owner Tan Wain Ching said: "Fun is important in educating people. Hopefully, the game will introduce people to more of our books."

Independent bookstore BooksActually is holding a street party on March 16 and 17 outside its store in Yong Siak Street. Visitors can lunch with a local writer at neighbouring restaurant Cheng's or attend book clubs at ice-cream shop Creamier and cafe Forty Hands.

#BuySingLit coincides with the Textures literary festival at The Arts House from March 7 to 10, where programmes include exhibitions such as The Room Of Love And Loss, a gallery of photographs of objects significant to members of the literary community, and a performance of writer Alfian Sa'at's short-story collection Malay Sketches.

Last year, more than 31,000 people attended #BuySingLit events over three days. According to a survey by the organisers, more than 66 per cent of the participants said their interest in Singapore literature increased after attending the events.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Grab tie-up, self-order printers for #BuySingLit'. Print Edition | Subscribe